Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Tinker Works to Bring Local Companies into Contracting Picture

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Tinker Works to Bring Local Companies into Contracting Picture

Article excerpt

Small business owners wanting to expand their markets need go only as far as Tinker Air Force Base.

There, a wealth of material awaits the would-be government contractor, as well as officials who can help sift through it all. Or, if that's too confusing, it's all posted on the Internet.

Last year, Tinker and the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center contracted for $2.5 billion worth of work, according to Betty L. Thomas, director of small business programs at Tinker. Of this, $279.7 million, or 11.3 percent, went to Oklahoma firms.

"We have no way of breaking that down," she noted, "whether the contract was to, say, Boeing which has an office in Midwest City and is considered an Oklahoma firm for contracting, or an actual local company."

For at least a decade, Tinker officials have been working to bring more small local companies into the contracting picture. It hasn't worked well, Thomas said.

Then again, there is one element that isn't tracked where Oklahoma companies are making great inroads -- acting as subcontractor for prime contractors.

"Besides helping people bid on government contracts, we offer assistance on bidding on subcontracts for the primes," Thomas said.

Since the federal government has established a goal of attracting more small companies as bidders, many of the large contracts contain clauses requiring subcontractors be certified small business or minority or women owned.

"There's just no way to track how many of these contractors call on the small local companies for subcontract work," she said.

When hopeful contractors appear on Tinker's doorstep, they immediately have access to more than just this $2.5 billion spent by the local base.

Thomas' office has information on all Department of Defense installations and agencies in Oklahoma.

Not only that, but through the Internet, researchers can link to several purchasing locations throughout the nation.

"We also have a list of recurring service contracts, the type of contract that many local, small companies are interested in," Thomas said. "The list describes the services under contract, estimated yearly amount and the firm that has the contract.

"This will allow local companies to track the contracts, find out when they are due for bid again and what the current firm won the contract for. …

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